East Hampshire District Council is working out what it needs to do to make the biggest and quickest impact on local emissions – and is working with local community groups to do it.
Community groups which lead locally on climate change action met councillors and council staff to discuss what could be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the district.
Alton Climate Action Network, Petersfield Climate Action Network, Energy Alton, Women Of This Town, Energise South Downs and the South Downs National Park shared their experiences and knowledge with the council to help set achievable and focused priorities.
The meeting at the council’s Penns Place offices in Petersfield on October 12 was run by Cllr Robert Mocatta.
He said: “It was absolutely fantastic to be able to meet with the local people who are working so hard to promote sustainable practices at home and at work.
“The council has a huge responsibility in the fight against climate change, not only in limiting our own emissions but also in encouraging residents and businesses to give their best efforts.
“What we wanted to do was agree some priorities together and decide on the two or three big things we can practicably achieve that will make the biggest difference to greenhouse gas emissions in East Hampshire.
“We have had some fantastic input from the community groups, and our job now is to work through that information and decide a set of actions that we all agree will make the quickest and biggest impact.”
In July the council pledged to be carbon neutral by 2035 and a carbon audit is being drawn up to reveal where it can improve its environmental performance.
The two climate action networks presented a report derived from government data which showed the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases in East Hampshire were transport, domestic energy use and farming.
Peter Moss, of Petersfield Climate Action Network, said: “We were delighted to be given the opportunity of presenting our report. Starting the meeting with this clarity allowed us to focus our discussions on things that would have a real impact.
“As community groups we really appreciated the level of engagement and look forward to translating the positive energy that was in the room into tangible actions that we can jointly take forward.”
The meeting discussed chances to reduce East Hampshire’s carbon footprint, such as improving walking and cycling infrastructure, and if planning policies could ensure new homes were built with more energy efficient heating systems than gas boilers.
Council leader Cllr Richard Millard said: “We can achieve so much if we work together. I love to push the envelope and I would love to achieve as much as we possibly can. If we work together we can follow up the radical ideas and we can go above and beyond.
“We might not achieve everything we want to but if we think big we can make a huge difference to the emissions we create in East Hampshire. We are absolutely up for that challenge.”